Edge of Tomorrow – 2014

Director Doug Liman
Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Noah Taylor
Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth based on All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

First thing’s first.  Edge of Tomorrow is a likable film.  Tom Cruise puts everything into it, just like usual.  Cruise’s Major William Cage is a mouthpiece for the military who is busted down to private and shown the front line despite his protestations.  This puts him in line to be the butt of ridicule and low expectations, just like the good old days.  And also like his past, Cruise gets to rise above those obstacles and the enemy as well.

Why is he busted down?  It’s the thinnest of excuses, but it amounts to “I don’t want to film the front line.”  So here he is, thrust into the midst of a disaster so bad, the big hero Vrataski (Blunt) of the war is decimated quickly. He outlasts her only long enough to kill one of the blue ones instead of the many red ones.  The blue ones are known as Alphas.  And their death triggers a reset of the day, time-wise by the Omega, who is the big brain of the attack.  The Alpha’s blood is mixed with his and this gives him the ability to reset as well.  Of course he too has to die to enact these resets.

This is not apparent to Cage until he gets together with Vrataski to compare notes.  This is something that Vrataski knows because she used to have the same ability, until…well, I will let you discover why.  She works to train Cage and at the same time they try to figure out how they can attack the Omega while avoiding  the Alpha.  This whole section of the film is handled cleverly enough to avoid being repetitive.  Still, its loud and the bad guys seem too animated to give a visceral feeling to the viewer.  Compare this to the street battle scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it becomes obvious what is lacking.

Cruise is good, but he’s treading over oft covered ground.  Blunt gives the strongest performance of the film, even if her character is an extension of her Devil Wears Prada self.  Paxton is more annoying than he’s been in a while.  Brendan Gleeson is very large for a general wearing camouflage.  Doug Liman does a great job with pacing, but like any director given the keys to the computer after so long, using traditional filming methods, he relies too awkwardly on the effects and the result is disconcerting.

Edge of Tomorrow works hard to please, even if at 113 minutes it still feels long.  That feeling is completely subjective.  The film has been well received by audiences and critics alike.  As much as I respect Cruise for his efforts to bring something new to the table each time out (even with his M:I sequels), this is not going to be one that I revisit all that often.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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